Harness Galling

Tolkien remarked to Warren Lewis that one of the problems with Hugo Dyson was that he had been harness galled. When first given a position, Dyson did not have a lot of work on his hands, so he worked according to whim. But when he got a position at Oxford, he was required to work a more standard, heavy load, and found it difficult because he had been, in Tolkien’s shire wisdom, harness galled.

I was concerned about that myself coming back to school. No doubt I’m not the drudge I ought to be, since I lack any sort of drudgery mysticism. I don’t value hard work for its own sake, me. A means? yes. An end? Never. But I think I have reasonably good work habits, and I understand what I’m in the midst of needs to continue ratcheting up.

One of the things that has prepared me is fast food. Not eating it, so much, as making it–though perhaps not a little of what academic success I have enjoyed can after all be explained by the number of Whoppers I’ve had. I learned while working in fast food that at first you learn to do the thing, then the circumstances become difficult and you learn to do them much better. Then you close, and every bit you can squeeze out of things to improve gets you out sooner. With that best of motivations you do your most efficient work. Same with this, I reckon.


5 thoughts on “Harness Galling

  1. A good proportion of your life has gone into encouraging me, more than I deserve, and I appreciate it. You are a better friend.

    I’m doing the Falcon Lord. I talked to the teacher and he’s going to let me do up to 100 pages as a project. I want to work on the first book to make it more interesting. I think it needs better structure (small sections that resolve something, while adding to the greater whole) and more suffering for the protagonist. I’m reading The Hunger Games again to realize how much suffering has to be inflicted. Could do Harry Potter for that too. To bring out more in the chap.

    The question was not about that, but that’s where the effort is being directed. I don’t work on poetry so much, as in thinking about what it does and is. One reaches a stage, and then waits for the next one. Life is full of waiting, and I think in the past I have worried too much about wasting time. Observing does not waste time.

    Painting continues on Sundays, while I listen to Sunday things if we don’t have people over, which we have started doing. Having lectures to listen to is what drives painting. I’ve gone through at least two, almost three pads of paper. I am conscious that after a while people get what you are about and then only the extraordinary will do. It is like a blog, in that way. I’m still working on waves. I’m trying to figure out little things which are tedious even in explanation, but add up. I think I might be getting to where I can think about deliberately doing things, rather than accidentally, but I have thought that before. Katrina wants autumn stuff.

  2. Well, now I’m envious. In what class do you get to work on your novel as a project?

    Maybe you can find a supervisor that will let you submit some Sunday paintings with your dissertation. Origen and Plotinus need paintings. I bet you could do some grand stuff with the fall of the soul into matter.

    1. It is an apologetics course, of all things. It is influenced by the L’Abri take, and presuppositionalistic, and in the confusion, I can submit my epic fantasy as part of my PhD course work. The teacher got a PhD here, his dissertation was on Tolkien. He’s looking to publish it, and regularly contributes to Inklings things here and there. French chap. Lectured better on Tolstoy and Rouault than on Tokien, though.

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